☩ Spookinite Valley ☩ ☩ Main Gothic Stories ☩ ☩ Short Stories ☩ ☩ Rites, Poetry, and Prophecies ☩ ☩ Our Gothic Instrumental Music ☩ ☩ Shadows On The Wall ☩

 The Many Morbid Tales of Spookinite Valley

Aghast and Alone
Written by Benjamin Fouché

"Sanguivoriphobia" by Morbus Tenebris

I. The Inn

Sheets of rain vigorously pound upon the roof of the bleak, Gothic-Revival structure while lightning brightens the dark-gray, billowing heavens. Thunder rumbles furiously over the lonesome vale and the wind whistles through the shuddering treetops above the steep hillsides––and up on the second story of the grand edifice, through the sheer, ghost-like curtains, peers a strange elderly man. He watches steadily while a new visitor hastens through the remorseless rain and moves underneath the shadowed porte-cochére. The old man smiles with such wickedness of expression––and grimly chuckling to himself in a somewhat delirious state, he then hurriedly leaves the sight of the window, contemplating on undertaking God-knows-what.

Lightning blazes through the pitiless clouds once more, followed by the blaring thunder. Dusk is, without doubt, descending upon Spookinite Valley; it is the time where the wraiths of the night can hauntingly call out to one another, gesturing to the unwary. This is indeed going to be quite an outlandish evening. The disturbed and sick linger inside the Inn, only waiting to inflict such vicious horror upon their unsuspecting victims. The truth is hidden within the forgotten walls and many forbidden secrets have been awaiting their horrid revelations for over a century. And now, hurrying inside, the new guest enters through the thick, maple-wood doors that imprison the unrested specters within its dull interior. And sadly, the guest who arrived moments ago does in fact happen to be you.

Here you now stand solitarily in the elegant parlor of the Inn. The maroon, velvet chairs must have offered comfort long ago, however, now they are thickly coated in dense cobwebs and dust. Spiders quiver their slender legs above you while they suspend themselves down from the high ceiling. Candelabra glow from upon the mildewed-plaster walls. The dim, flickering flames dance upon their dying wicks as a cold draft sweeps through the room. Following an exceptionally detailed-pattern carpet, you make your way to the front desk, which, of course, is weakly lit by a desolate candle. And unexpectedly, the caretaker steps out of the darkened doorway and slowly makes his way to the front desk.

The most fitting word, for which can effortlessly describe the inexplicable man's gaunt face, is simply corpselike. He wears a rich-ebon suit with a blood-red waistcoat––and beneath the waistcoat is a formal cravat.

“Greetings; my name is Mansfield. And please excuse my dead appearance, for I am a very aberrant man with many aberrant conditions. Nevertheless, may you rest assured that I do not pose harm. Now, please allow me to direct you to your room. I shall guide you up the stairs to the floor above.”

Cautiously stepping behind the odd-mannered gentleman, you push the abandoned works of spiders aside and curiously glance over your shoulders every so often. When you and Mansfield reach the curving stairwell, he stops abruptly and faces you with an earnest expression upon his face. He then solemnly continues on.

Down the hallway, you warily move beyond more antique and tattered chairs, also mummified in cobwebs and heavily layered in condensed dust. The timeworn sconces hanging from the walls are spaced far apart, making the melancholy hallway unpleasantly dusky. While you near the end, Mansfield abruptly seizes a key out from his waistcoat's pocket. Handing the silvery skeleton key over to you, he peers into your eyes deeply and thereafter grins with every single one of his skeletal teeth. When Mr. Mansfield finishes, he leaves sluggishly––and before he begins his descent down the vertiginous stairwell, he pulls a candle from a tarnished, brass candelabrum. The glow of the flame casts a towering, grim shadow upon the deprived walls. Mr. Mansfield's mannerism is all too strange and there is a baleful sensation developing within your disconcerted soul.

Precisely as every other forlorn apartment in the Inn's gloomy interior, a weak flame is the only source of light in your quarters. Your bed is made rather neatly and a small, oaken nightstand rests beside it with the candleholder placed atop a book. The gale prolongs its unremitting rage over the lugubrious dale; its unrelenting howls become even more menacing, prior to your arrival. But all at once, you hear a distinct knock on your bedchamber's door––slightly turning your head, you become increasingly hesitant of answering, acknowledging that whoever could stand behind the door is, in all probability, Mr. Mansfield. While you noiselessly creep over to the chamber's door, you listen carefully––there is yet another knock. “Mr. Mansfield?” you ask apprehensively––yet nobody answers.

You decide that it is conspicuously best not to open the door, since whoever it was never responded to your mere enquiry. While you continue listening intently, you hear footfalls resound down the hall and gradually fade with the dreadful silence. Your immense unease of this old Inn is strengthening by the hour. You must not return to the parlor until dawn––something is not quite right. Endeavoring to ignore whoever it may have been, you prop yourself up against a pillow and two cushions. Lifting the candleholder above the book, you notice the word guestbook is engraved deeply into the time-faded cover. Meticulously opening the book, you cannot help but notice that the pages are exceedingly aged; all the way through they have yellowed. You begin reading each entry––they are accordingly thus:

September 29th, 1832

Since my arrival, here at this sorrowful Inn, I find the caretaker, Mr. Mansfield, to be a notably quaint character. He acts in a rather unusual manner and his appearance is extraordinarily hideous. One could merely gaze at him and instantly receive a surge of chills through their nerves. Though it is quite evident that Mr. Mansfield is incredibly abnormal, he seems to be up to something extremely worrying. I do not know what exactly, but I can indeed feel fear itself unrelentingly pervade my soul. While I write this entry, the wind is whisking forcefully outside my window and I can hear the leaves crackling about the surrounding thickets. A sense of darkness is in the crisp, Autumn air.

You flip several more pages further:

October 30th, 1846

I am unmistakably certain that no one other than I is staying here for the evening. But, of course, Mr. Mansfield resides here, yet he does not feel like an actual present living-soul. I could not help but stare into his sunken eyes while he greeted me at the front desk; it is rather discomforting being around the peculiarly cadaverous man. After I was led to my bedchamber, I checked my door's lock twice and shut the curtains too. The flame is flickering rapidly on my candle’s wick while I write this log––an ill-omen perhaps? I shall indeed not rest well tonight. Hopefully dawn shall break soon.

November 13th, 1864

This Inn is vastly reminiscent of a nightmare that I once had. I felt as if I was being stared upon by fixed-eyes when I arrived––and thus, my perception was unerring. Upon entering the parlor, I made my acquaintance with Mr. Mansfield, the caretaker. He grinned towards me with such an unnerving expression upon his face. I pretended that I did not notice and proceeded forward to the desk. He greeted me courteously, yet acute anxiety lingers within my distraught spirit. After Mr. Mansfield led me to my room, I watched him leave––just to know for certain that the odd man was gone. My sleeping quarters are exactly the same as the antechamber, parlor, stairwell and hallway; dim and dusty.

Once again, you turn many more pages––only to find similar entries.

December 26th, 1873

A dreary sensation, which is deeply embedded in my bones, urges me to leave this inn tomorrow. I am indeed certain that there is a dark secret hidden within the walls of this gloomy structure. Why do I feel so strongly that the caretaker, Mansfield, is plotting something? The uneasiness has not diminished since my arrival and I greatly fear that I have accidently put myself in grave danger. Whoever may be reading this entry, you too must do the same, for you do not know that your visit here could indeed be fateful. Goodbye.

These past visitors have all shared the same unbearable nervousness which you have felt concerning Mr. Mansfield. Should you attempt to leave tonight, would the ghoulish man confront you? Or is Mansfield merely a harmless soul with an odd personality? It might indeed be an irrational decision to secretly make your departure now. Perhaps you should stay here until the morrow arises. Gently shutting the guestbook, you watch the paper-dust from numerous decades ago erupt from the pages and drift into the stagnant air. You place the book onto the oaken nightstand and set the brass candle holder back atop it. And now, while the grandfather clock tolls ten, you realize that there are only two hours until midnight. Crawling underneath the warm covers, you make a fruitless attempt to rest––the obstinate uneasiness persists; perhaps there actually is something malign about this place.

Unsettlingly, the ghostly noise of footfalls begins to increase while you so vainly try to close your weary eyes––the unnerving sounds continue on without a sparing interval––almost as if someone is repetitively pacing to and fro. But lastly, moments after the daunting noises cease, you are finally able to fall into a weak slumber. And yet, thus now you are awoken once again by the disquietude of your surroundings. There are many other sounds, only this time, they come from within the ancient walls; there is knocking, shuffling, and scratching. Sitting erect in bed, you become gravely perturbed––when quite suddenly––you watch as a part of the wall begins to deliberately creak ajar. For a few seconds, a merciless silence holds dominion over all, but shortly thereafter, the secretive door begins to open wider––and wider––and widest. In the subdued light of your candle peers Mr. Mansfield from inside the enigmatic passageway. He rather fiendishly leers towards you and says,

“You appeared quite peaceful while you slept ever so soundly.”

Hastening out of bed, you charge headlong towards the bedchamber door––but quite unexpectedly, Mansfield clutches your arm with remarkable strength, despite his frail appearance. While attempting to flee out of your sleeping quarters, you violently strike your elbow into his emaciated ribs. Shoving the ghoul to the floor, you are released from his firm grasp. But alas, he instantly climbs up from the floor and pursues you with a grim frustration flourishing within his blackened soul. Rushing into another bedroom across the lofty hallway, you vigorously slam its door shut and lock it. Mansfield unremittingly rattles the door knob while you stand motionless in the complete, murky darkness. Unaware of which direction you are moving towards, you unintentionally place your hand onto something that immediately bestows upon you a worrisome sensation. Your very own hand now holds something cold; almost as if you are touching a cadaver's stiffened hand. Enshrouded in terror, you stand silently in the obscured room. But without prior warning, there is light––holding a gaunt candlestick and towering over you is a very unnatural man. His skin is a dark emerald and his irises are a deep crimson hue. The outlandish being holds the candle up to his ghastly face while he begins to slightly grin.


Hurriedly stepping away, severely frightened by the insidious being, you quickly pull open the bedchamber door and leap outwards––but instantly, Mansfield strides out from the shadows and says,

“I see that you have become acquainted with my dear friend, Chester. It is such a pity that we must now satisfy our eternal thirst for dread.”

Impaling his very own sharp, skeletal fingers into his weak skull, he begins to viciously pull away at it––this disturbing action is subsequently followed by the sounds of dried flesh shredding and solid bone cracking. As the messily severed head coughs, all of the candles are promptly snuffed out. The unsettled shadows begin to envelope your environment. In one hand, Mansfield holds his head by its frail, white, remaining hairs.

“I shall indubitably have to do precisely the same to you.”

Mansfield's decaying head laughs quite feebly while his body unsteadily hobbles towards you. Releasing a shriek, you rush through the darkened hallway; where shall you hide now?

Horrified by the entire unforeseen occurrence, you hardly throw yourself into the bedroom at the end of the hall precisely before Mr. Mansfield and Chester are able to seize you. Mansfield quite aggressively bangs his clenched fists against it, trying to force the mere piece of wood open. Swiftly feeling your way through the bedchamber by pressing your hands along the wall, you accidently open a secretive door––noticeably similar to the one of which Mansfield used to encroach upon you. Without the slightest hesitation, you enter the mysterious ink-like darkness and shut the hidden door from behind. You now unknowingly stand in what feels to be an extremely narrow passageway built within the walls of each neighboring room. While proceeding forward, you feel something abruptly crunch beneath your foot. You take another step into the opaque and unyielding shadows––and yet again, you feel something crumble to dust. Placing your hands onto the objects lying about the floor of the tunnel, you begin to gently feel whatever it may possibly be that you are stepping on. Your fingers move against something smooth––yet brittle, and seemingly hollow. One specific piece of the strange material has a few holes upon its surface. But rather unexpectedly from behind, advancing inwards is none other than Mansfield and Chester.

Their candles' lights shine upon your surroundings; the remains, which once belonged to those unfortunate enough to have fallen under the Inn's deception, are scattered everywhere––bones, skulls, ribcages––they lie beyond the rays of the feeble candlelight. Unstably lurking nearer, Mansfield purposely keeps his candlestick close to his violently decapitated head which wriggles terrifyingly in his clutching grip. Stumbling through the bones in insurmountable terror, you wonder if there could conceivably exist an exit that leads out of this everlasting domain of torment and fear. But without warning, you plummet to the bottom of a vertical shaft, shrieking imploringly before landing into the sorrowful remains of past visitors. Both Chester and Mansfield peer below at where you helplessly lay. They grin with pure malevolence and hasten off––undoubtedly to leave your suffering soul here eternally. Nevertheless, you are determined to discover a way in which you can escape the small cavity. While you sluggishly crawl out of the bones, you see an exceedingly thin frame of light emanating from one wall of the shaft. Perhaps it is an exit. Placing your hands against it, you enter what appears to be the parlor. Immediately sparing no time, you proceed into the antechamber.

Strenuously pushing your hands against both heavy doors, they disdainfully remain locked from the outside. You thrust with greater strength, yet still––they obstinately endure the pathetic force which you emit. It hopelessly seems that all of your efforts are purely in vain. Understanding that Mansfield and Chester could indeed return very shortly, you hurriedly move through the melancholic parlor and a doorway. Quietly pulling the door shut, you now stand in a remarkably dim room. You begin to thoroughly observe your surroundings, searching for a place from which you may escape. Beside a window is a secretary desk––and on it manifestly lies a journal. Next to the journal is the half of a skull; it appears that it has evidently been crafted into a candle-fixture. The soft flame burning on the wick is eerily motionless. Your curiosity increases profoundly while you are mysteriously compelled to open the journal.

October 1st, 1756

For innumerable centuries, we have sprouted within the shadows of this obscured vale, but alas! there is a dream which I can no longer endure. I see the moon gleaming high over the mist-swallowed meadows. Motionless in the nightly heavens it rests, immense and pumpkin-hued, with such exquisite majesty. Faint, burning glares scuttle through the thousands of cornstalks. Abhorrent creatures arise from underneath the earth. Vines as their arms, with sharp, jagged teeth. A vile, slender grin full of unredeemed wickedness and inexorable rage. Inside them, a hunger strengthens vastly. I see myself releasing a fury upon the temporal realms while my very own kind feasts upon the living. I see fear itself shrouding every corner of the world. A malevolent energy flows unceasingly through my black essence. I laugh insidiously while I breathe warm fire and exhale dusky smoke.

You begin rapidly turning at least a few hundred more pages, wanting to understand the meaning behind all of this:

October 18th, 1834

Merely great desires borne from my deepest yearnings, I intend to transfigure all of them into a cold and merciless reality. Foolish traveler after foolish traveler, my kin gain more and more. I can effortlessly sense the Eternal Night; the hour is indeed drawing near. The deplorable souls of mortals are the divine key to beginning a dominion of utter and pure madness. My servants shall willingly join my relentless mirth and my kin shall dine upon the living quite messily. Cauldrons will boil while the enthralling sound of hearts pounding resonates in the cold air. Oh, how joyful these imminent times shall be. The gift for which I bestow will be shared everlastingly.

You then flip the pages to the most recent entry—and your horrid anticipation is only increased further:

October 31st, 1887

Tonight, all shall live unerringly––for my age has descended. Prior to the moment at which I write this, a new visitor arrived at our Inn. My dear and trustful servant, Mansfield, perceives our most recent guest to be exceptionally observant. Past visitors could usually perceive our intentions, but this one is more than simply perceptive––for this lonesome traveler seeks the truth––and indeed, the truth we shall reveal. Thus now, the tempest is only looming––patience; when comes the hour of Midnight, the disturbing amusement begins.

Goodbye, evermore, The Master.

This very year is indeed 1887––and this very evening is indeed October 31st––and the new visitor mentioned in the journal is indeed you. What has been written in the log is all too much for your bemused mind to even comprehend––you must make your departure immediately at this time! Hurrying towards the old window, you wisely decide to use an oaken chair to break it open. But alas, before you are able to strike it with great vigor, you are suddenly confronted by the lord of this demesne. Staring deeply into your troubled eyes and smiling rather sullenly, there before you floats a spirit of pure darkness; The Master. His sinisterly slanted eyes carved upon his coarse pumpkin-head possess a weak glow. His shadowy, slender fingers stretch outwards like the claws of an uncanny creature. The wraith's shredded, dark-violet hooded cloak ripples threateningly. While he begins to speak in such a fearless manner, a fire within him ignites and black smoke wafts from his skeletal nostrils.

“Now then, what matter concerns you so, that one, such as I, might discover you in here?”

Unable to articulate a single word, you continue to prolong your gaze upon him. He whickers fearsomely and speaks once more, saying,

“You shall perish in this valley tonight.”

After he declares this menacingly, the candlelight gradually dims––until you are left standing in the darkened room. The Master fades with the shadows as an ethereal smoke, glaring upon your futile existence. And in an abrupt instant, the sound of doors slamming reverberates throughout the whole of the Inn's gloomy interior. Without hesitation, you use the chair to shatter the window's frail glass and hasten into the bitterness of midnight.

Blackening clouds rapidly stretch across the pallid moon and the dead, withered leaves are scattered by a ghost-like breeze that chills your every nerve. Branches lightly shake from the towering treetops of the hemlocks, hickories, maples and oaks. Through the dense and murky forest is a small trail winding forward; your only freedom. Quickly moving with the gusts of wind, you hurry onwards into the night. Through the pine-scented woodlands, you advance farther from the Inn––only wishing to forsake the vivid nightmares that reside within its morose shadows. Alas, this evening has only commenced––and there are other horrors that await you. The words of which The Master spoke resonate with your heartbeat,

“You shall perish in this valley tonight.”

II. The Rural Hauntings

Uncertain of whether it is behind, or beside you, your instincts whisper ethereally that something brooding is indeed near. As the darkening hazes swallow the silky moonlight, unnatural shrieks arise into the air, disrupting the stillness of the nightly landscape. The wet, autumnal leaves stick underneath your weary feet while a remarkably similar sound follows from behind––resounding perpetually. Beyond each sullen tree, the murky and dull timber of this valley unendingly stretches across the remorseless land. The increasingly immense premonition grasps your fearful heart so tightly that you greatly fear it is no longer beating. Further on, through the gloomy hollows, a chilling and condensed mist emerges from the surface. Hastening deeper into the inexorable shadows, you make your way through the thorn-like underbrush––when quite suddenly––you stumble onto what you presume to be a mere pumpkin patch. However, something else is extraordinarily peculiar about this odd clearing of land.

While you gaze over the massive and darkened field, instantly, in a moment of such fury and aggression, a bonfire is lit. Thus uncannily rising into the shrouded sky from behind the flames is The Master. Soaring while he whickers deeply, in a malignant rhythm, he causes several iron kettles forming a circle to begin to boiling. Grinning in an exceedingly ghastly manner, The Master hymns an unhallowed and formidable carol;

“Entirely conjured from thy grim pumpkins and thy darkest burnings; I have summoned thee from my very own grisly desires and horrid yearnings, Churning violently, and shaping fearsomely, I willingly share my enduring gloom, So thus thy terror cast from thy shadows can malevolently loom. And thenceforth, I now declare this temporal realm, thine.”

Thousands of vigorous vines squirm beneath the rich soil while hundreds of backbiting snarls thunder with an apocalyptic vehemence. Wrathfully tearing open one another here and there, the grittily natured creatures begin to breathe a deathly life. Raging eyes glare with a burning gleam and mouths with jaggedly gnarled teeth widen acutely; the Dark Sickness has commenced. And several yards away in the field of baleful harvest, a futilely vulnerable traveler shrieks agonizingly while he is mercilessly eaten alive by the relentless creatures borne from wickedness. You imploringly cry for them all to end their pitiless wrath, but alas, this merely worsens the unendurable situation. They all stare fixedly towards where you are standing––they see your helpless position––their hunger is agitated––they smell your every scent of malodorous fear––their hunger is invoked further––they perceive that you understand precisely how minimal your chance of survival is––their hunger becomes uninhibited. As you make haste back into the shadowed brushwood, their vile and unworldly shrieks call out. The wretched creatures aggressively hurl their rough, vine-like arms, advancing towards you in an animal-like fashion. But in a rather sudden and unforeseen moment, out of nowhere lunge more of the demented hobgoblins. Rushing off into another direction, you witness the two groups merge into a horrendous horde.

Rather hurriedly, you move farther into the thickened woodlands and wisely decide to conceal yourself underneath the wilting limbs of a decaying maple. The unbearable and anguishing wails of other susceptible victims reverberate throughout the entirety of the precarious night. While more of the abhorrent creatures scavenge around in the browned leaves and thickets, they snuffle to and fro. Your pounding heartbeat echoes over your very own thoughts while you watch in utter anxiety. They crawl nearer, sneering to one another––and you involuntarily tremble––understanding that your unmerited death could indeed be near. There is a persistent silence that settles over the wilderness––but nothing happens––only the haunting dread is lengthened. But lastly, when the quietness is broken, the horrid beings uncover your pitiful place of hiding. Ominously eyeing you, they slightly leer––knowing precisely how flavorsome you are. The creatures begin to surround you, manifesting signs of an impending feast, during which they will find great pleasure.

You are, without doubt, surrounded and rendered helpless––yet you are indeed willing to do anything in order to escape this nightmare that eternally enshrouds you. Prowling nearer to where you defenselessly crouch, the creatures' sharpened jaws open to a gaping degree––they all are about to dine without proper courtesy. But in abrupt desperation, the instinctive will to survive possesses your every thought and action. Scurrying over the repugnant beings, you watch as they become disturbed further and swiftly scuttle after you. Unbearably shrieking, they slash their thorn-like talons through the smoky air and hiss venomously. Their rageful eyes are illuminated while the wraithlike gusts of wind moan through the thickets pugnaciously. Ravens perching on mangled branches above caw loudly and other ghoulish whines call out in the vast landscape.

Out from underneath the shadowy arms of the innumerable trees, you rush into the moonlit cornfields––the thousands of sprawling stalks give the dale an even more unwelcoming touch––they appear as slender nightstalkers, beckoning all souls to come forth while they sway in the wind. The bitter coldness constricts itself around you while the bellowing beasts continue to skulk hither and thither through the broad fields. The relentless creatures violently topple over the cornstalks amidst the exceptionally blustery weather––and they shriek as they shred even more destructively through the desiccated fields.

This merciless hunt endures in the thick timberlands of the darkened vale as several other tormenting screams of deserted victims disperse into the air. You merely cannot seem to overcome the fearfulness that whirls around your everlastingly perturbed soul. And in the obscured heavens above arises The Master, who only bestows a scornful laugh and encourages the ruthless beings to carry forth their belligerent storm. But quite suddenly, you trip on the root of an oak and plummet onto the cold, unpitying ground. As you vainly struggle to your feet, many of the pumpkin-like creatures slowly approach where you lie. And precisely as you begin to hasten off, one seizes your ankle, causing you to collapse for the second time. Without warning, the sadistic being bites into your leg. Crying aloud, severely anguished, you become frightened, attempting to writhe out of the creature’s pernicious bite.

Yet finally, after many fruitless endeavors, you are able to vigorously thrust the rancorous being off from your leg and crush it against the bristly bark of a tree trunk. This causes the creature to splatter into an orange, gory pulp. While you frantically limp away into the woodlands, the others charge headlong towards you, proving once more to hold no clemency. Dashing through a bleak ravine, you hear the loathsome howls of the heartless creatures linger beneath the hanging treetops. But several yards ahead, there appears to stand a hollowed tree rotting upon a hillside. And thus quite hurriedly, you crouch onto your knees and crawl into the decomposing hickory. Through a smaller hole inside the decayed trunk, you gaze upon the horrifying scene of hundreds of creatures lumbering onward into the dead of midnight.

Thankfully for you, the outlandish entities have lost your fear-reeking scent––that is, momentarily. Nevertheless, you feel slight relief and begin to admire the silver light of the moon shining through the shadowing treetops. But although all seems well, you must remain extremely heedful of the other menaces that could possibly reside in this haunted and forlorn place. Stooping out from the safety of the cave-like burrow, you listen as the noises of the creatures begin to fade into the stillness. Warily observing your environment, you sense a quietness descending upon the land. But suddenly, you catch an undesirable glimpse of something very disquieting; a weak glow is moving solemnly beyond the trees––and this glow does not belong to a creature, but rather, a humble, burning flame. And the more you prolong your stare towards the dimmed-radiance, the more you realize that the lights belong to lanterns––lanterns being wielded by Mansfield and Chester; the two ghouls that incessantly disturb you are drawing near––you must make haste to get far from them.  Thus, you quickly advance in another direction, only further isolating yourself.

The shadowed trees and mountainsides invoke such delicate, yet wraithlike expressions of the imagination––the deadened woods discontinuously creak whilst the softening wind slowly sweeps over the brooding valley. The prideful owls, who sentinel the forest from within the comfort of their roosts, release their ever so quiet carols, hymning to the various other nightly rhythms. The thickened clouds occasionally become thin, permitting the humbly majestic stars to briefly gaze upon the autumn countryside. You yearningly hope that the two wretched ghouls, Chester and Mansfield, do not discover you creeping about the blackness of the dense copses. Turning your head rather slightly, you watch the faint glares of their lanterns become weaker and weaker, until they fade with the surrounding gloom. And thus forward, through the hummocks, you come across a pathway winding along the edge of another open cornfield. Quietly, you advance along the rusted fence-line, and move into the dusk-enshrouded unknown.

For a lengthy interval, the only discernible sounds that your weary ears can garner are the thousands of chirping crickets, but alas, they too seem to silence with the descending darkness. You feel such irredeemable lonesomeness roaming this desolate and dismal dale. Intermittently, the wan moon will make premature attempts to appear, and thereafter reappear, through the ebon-draped skies. The cold, fall air skims over your head, then lightly brushing the tops of the oaks, cedars, maples and hemlocks that are strewed amongst the melancholy hillsides. The innumerable mysteries and wonders of the night possess your soul with a vagueness of comprehension. Indeed, the secrets that are conveyed by the nocturnal gusts will bemuse your simplistic mind. Dusts from centuries long-passed drift with the dreams of mortals during this time. You become weary, and begin seeking a place in which you may rest undisturbed.

Several yards ahead, atop a brush-strangled knoll, rests a deserted barn. The knobby arms of a dead hickory slouch upon the mere tin roof of the timeworn structure. One of the old, sturdy doors slightly hangs open over the hill; perhaps you will find sanctuary within the long-forgotten stable. The creatures are still on their unrelenting hunt, and perhaps if you were to cross their path once again, they would render you defenseless––and therefore devour you alive in the most torturous manner. It is indeed best that you take a moment to rest in the barn. Your chances of survival could become much more significant. Walking over to the door, you hear its weatherworn wood groans while you begin to pull it open further. And immediately screeching softly, several small bats flutter down from the hayloft and out the entrance into the night. While cautiously stepping into the barn, you feel a sudden breeze scrape the door shut from behind, leaving you alone in the ink-like dimness. You carefully step forward while your eyes adjust to your pitch-black surroundings. A few holes in the roof allow the pallid rays of moonlight to beam through. The barn mice keep you company while you lay yourself quite soundly in the hay. Your eyelids become heavy and you thus fall into a restless slumber . . .

*   *   *

In an unforeseen instant, you are awakened by the ravening crying of the pitiless creatures. You become equally as petrified as a cadaver rotting underneath the earth. Motionless and feeling utter distress, you begin to tremble irrepressibly. The exceedingly unstable wood and timbers overhead shudder while the repellant beings knock their vines violently against the outside of the ancient barn. Indeed, they seem to surround the whole of the rickety structure. One by one, planks are ruthlessly torn from the barn's frail frame. The creatures' vines slither through the cracks of the decaying boards and their glowing eyes peer through the holes. They bite and tear sadistically through the deteriorated wood, all so desperately trying to consume your flesh and bones. Slowly, the barn begins to collapse; beams splinter and the walls lean inwards. This could very well be your final moment. Might an anguishing fate truly await you? Will you indeed perish in this valley tonight, as prophesized by The Master? Perhaps all hope has ceased. The pugnacious creatures crawl into the barn, but you instinctively rush through them. The horde grazes your flesh with their teeth and remorselessly gashes you with their talons. Nevertheless, you are still alive––the end has not yet come.

Ravaging the crisp underbrush from behind, they thrash their bristly vines upon your back––the horrors persist, yet you most continue to endure their agonizing wrath if you are to live. Their grimly sinister faces gleam in the darkness of the night and their foreboding presence causes great dread upon your tormented soul. But quite suddenly, a daunting bellow bursts fiercely into the cold air; the sound did not emanate from any of the restless creatures. They instantaneously sojourn and snuffle about. You too begin to increasingly slow your leap while you warily gaze around the abruptly silenced landscape. There is yet another howl that reverberates hither and thither. The sound dies with the deadening winds. The hanging clouds part and the glowing moon sluggishly transitions its hue into a deep-pumpkin shade. The murk in the heavens becomes translucent, and an orange light vaguely illuminates the wilderness. The creatures have since departed, skulking to and fro. You have been abandoned within the lull of the hour.

While you stare into the opaque thickets, something dark silently emerges from the dense shadows. Enormous arched legs begin to inch forth out from the darkness. The shape of the entity thereafter becomes more distinctive; having broad jaws and five small, lustrous, ebony eyes.  The night-shaded, furry arachnid gazes upon you without dispersing a single noise. There is a prolonged moment of fright and dismay. The Spidress continues to preserve her impeccable stealth. You too are there, standing inert, helplessly within her watchful sight and attention. And without prior notice, she releases an unworldly cry that pierces your ears. Raising her front legs in a hostile fashion, The Spidress shrieks hauntingly again, only this time, louder and deeper. In an instant, she seizes you with her two jaws and scuttles away into the woodlands. You wail imploringly while The Spidress carries you further into the leering duskiness.

Through the rancorous timberlands, you are mercilessly dragged farther and farther through the wet leaves––and thus into the unknown. Your bearings sidle farther away while the pumpkin-moon glares wildly upon you. Your screams and cries join in communion with the other piteous shrieks of unwary victims––all of which resound throughout the whole of the autumnal forest. Every tree, sapling, root, stone and stump that you so desperately clutch onto cannot ward off the atrocious strength of The Spidress. Your fingers claw relentlessly through the leaves and twigs while many thoughts of terror and sorrow pervade your confounded mind. You will surely perish in this valley tonight. The Master was unerring. And thus now, you are rendered only fear and death. Why have you inherited such an unmerited fate? Why must you rot––forgotten by all.

Advancing upon a vast clearing in the gloomed forest, The Spidress releases you upon the scythed grounds. The black, thin veins in the heavens part lugubriously from the pumpkin-hued moon. The orange glow thereupon descends rather sullenly while many distorted noises emanate from the shadowy arachnid. Raising her front limbs, she shrieks dauntingly, thereafter expeditiously hurling herself towards you. Scarcely evading The Spidress’s abrupt movements, you fall once more upon the unforgiving earth. Hundreds of otherworldly cries resound from afar and yonder. Indeed, the creatures have discovered your whereabouts, and as The Spidress, they too quite concurringly desire to dine upon you. Skulking out from underneath the murk of the underbrush, the encircling horde lumbers nearer and nearer––now approaching. The creatures effortlessly sense your indulging fear; how it enthralls each of them rigorously.

But amid the endless doom and woe, a faith is peculiarly bestowed upon you. And therefore, you hasten through the multitude of hobgoblins who stalk about unceasingly, longing to feast on your satisfying flesh. Thunderously, your callous pursuers wail in the deadness of the night. The inexorable dusk encloses your surroundings in every direction––yet you must endure this wretched and treacherous event. They lurk about here and there––The Spidress’ earsplitting shrieks seem to resound hither and yon. The hideous and perturbing noises of the pumpkin-like creatures clutch your ever so increasing heartbeat––they cry, howl, wail and shriek––deep, piercing, low and forbidding––with hunger, passion, violence and thirst––all malevolent, loathsome––and wicked. You push aside the desiccated, talon-like underbrush, moving farther from the unyielding creatures. Ink-like shadows fall––the moonlight is consumed––and the wind gusts gnaw viciously about your nose and cheeks.  And once more, in an abrupt moment, you stumble onto yet another vastly-spread field of pumpkins.

Before you are thousands of seemingly lifeless pumpkins––alas, they are, without doubt, sentient beings with a pulsating darkness imbued within them. An unseen force quakes violently beneath the earth; a coarse vine sluggishly slithers through the loose, black soil and grips onto your leg. But while you hurriedly writhe out of the malignant being’s vigorous grasp, there suddenly comes forth an understanding that you have entered the gates of an unhallowed domain; something unimaginable will occur shortly.  The Master promptly glides through the masked heavens––and pointing his long, shadowy index finger to you, he grimly proclaims,

“You shall perish in this valley tonight.”

And quite suddenly thereafter, in an intense and prodigious pandemonium, the pumpkins are infused with The Dark Sickness. They begin tearing out their innards and transmuting into the grisly beings that they have always been. But while all hope seems to diminish, you notice that a long forgotten, Greek-Revival mansion rests a few hundred yards across the harvesting patch––it is the only haven of this moment that you are rendered––you must move swiftly to the forsaken edifice before you become a flavorsome morsel consumed by the unremitting creatures.

While you desperately rush headlong towards the abandoned manor, dusky thunderclouds churn about, roaring deeply in the spectral tempest. The spiny claws of the relentless creatures make countless attempts to inch into your skin so that they may therefore shred it from your bones and devour every portion of your delectable flesh. Their ravaging vines cause you to stumble every few yards.  More and more initiate the process from which they respire the grimness that nourishes them––the souls of those who succumbed to the valley’s horrid deceit are embedded within each pumpkin––they are reincarnated into insidious beings with ill intentions. The Master formidably continues provoking the creatures with his dark, scorching laughter. Each one that you dash by appears to awaken instantaneously. Wrenching themselves vehemently out from the earth, they begin plundering through each other, all endeavoring to reach you. Yet lastly, you are able to hurry out of the ghastly pumpkin patch and find your way up to the baleful front yard of the lofty home.

You gaze upon its enormous and imposing columns which guard the two grand front doors. The crooked shutters swing open and shut in the wailing gusts of wind. You feel so immersed in this peculiar moment; your fancy is luring you inside. But without warning, the sharp and unyielding reality returns, thereupon seizing you––beyond your meager sight, the odious beings have surrounded the entire structure. And thus leading them merrily, The Master grins in such a menacing manner. The intolerable bellows and shrieks of the savage creatures overwhelm you greatly with an acute madness of the soul. The mansion that you have come across is your only sanctum––you must enter the commodious dominion before you are messily feasted upon. Heaving open the two, sturdy doors, you move into the mysterious home. And as the two doors slam shut from behind, all hopefulness of escaping the dismay of this unpitying night gradually dies within the stagnant air of the house. It is precisely after you bolt the doors that you know there is a negative presence inhabiting the depths of this dark, funereal dwelling.

III. The Spookinite House

You have endured this grim and everlasting night. A dreadful secret that you discovered at the Inn has awoken something of a rather insidious and malevolent nature. And now, it has thus left you here, alone, standing among the shadows of this forlorn mansion. Nonetheless, you are by no means alone. There are many ominous presences lingering in these vast halls. They whisper to one another, lying in wait. Their desires are quite malign––you must remain watchful at all times. There is an oppressive sensation that hangs over your unsettled spirit. While a musty draft chills your every bone, you hear the sound of shoes descending a stairwell. Perhaps the morose occupants are aware of your arrival.

Quietly hurrying out of the foyer, you carefully set foot into the house's dull and melancholy parlor. The timeworn wood sluggishly creaks beneath your feet. It is remarkably dim in this room. Nevertheless, a single lit candle resting on an antique end table emits a subdued luminosity. In the feeble, wavering light, you notice a roughly-carved coffin leaning against the corner of the chamber. But what causes even more acute unease upon your soul is the mere fact that the lid is wide open and unsettled dust drifts away from the oblong box's interior. Perhaps a body was reposing inside it a few moments prior to you entering the leaden abode. This very phantasmagoric fancy troubles you. Only the most grotesque corners of your bemused mind can bestow upon you the morbidly illustrated appearance of this latent, undead fiend.

While you begin to approach the coffin, more footfalls resound throughout the entirety of the dismal manor. Someone is––without doubt––lurking about within this shadowed and unnerving residence. Hurriedly advancing over to another blackened corner in the lofty parlor, you crouch behind a gloomy, tattered chair to obscure yourself precisely as a darkened figure enters the room. The shape walks over to the coffin with such delicate––yet mournful––gaits.  He thereafter faces the old table beside it. He wears an ebony coat from head to toe––a finely polished top hat rests atop his skeletal head. Pinching the wick with his pallid, emaciated fingers, he brings death to the flickering flame. And there, in the orange moonlight filtering through the foyer's windows, you can barely discern him grinning sullenly. He additionally takes something out from his coat pocket and lays it on the table; a needle and a spool of thread. After this, the exceptionally peculiar being vanishes out of the room.

Imaginably, he will indeed return––you must leave this room before the uncanny ghoul carries on with undertaking God-knows-what. As you warily advance through another towering doorway, the wailing wind gusts become quite lurid. Moving through a voluminous hallway, you listen as several knocks perturb your soul––they originate from innumerable directions. Further on, down the vast and cold hall, you finally become within arm's reach of the end. A stairwell curves aloft into the mysterious and singular unknown. Well aware of the baleful ghoul that is indubitably prowling about on this floor, you decide it is wisest to explore the second story of the harrowing dwelling. As you begin making your ascent, you begin to perceive that something is exceedingly wrong.

While you cautiously step onto the upper floor, the worrisome feeling pervades your distraught spirit. Near the very end of this hall, directly to the left, is a door slightly ajar; the weak and fading glow of long-burning candlelight dolefully gleams out from the crack of the door's opening. Your inquisitiveness is piqued while an unfathomable impression beckons you from beyond. Unknowingly moving forward, you become nearer and nearer to the curious door. Your very own heartbeat increases profoundly; it pounds against your chest so vigorously that you fear it will splinter your ribcage. But lastly, becoming within a close proximity of the chestnut door, you gently press your hands against it. And upon entering the room, you feel such irrepressible dismay pour into your fearful soul; there are fifty or fifty-five chairs scattered about the room, but what is postured within the chairs is all the more sickening––withered cadavers lie in agonizingly unnatural positions. Some of which are wearing dark, hooded gowns, and others wrapped in dark, shredded cloaks. In their gaunt, ashen hands are dying candles––with wax, long melted and hardened onto their cadaverous fingers.

What this all appears to be is purely a ghoulish work of art. While you take backward steps, you begin to tremble irredeemably––but quite suddenly, as if the circumstance could not have become any more disturbing, you distinctly sense an unwanted presence from behind. Sharply turning so that you may therefore confront the entity, you instantly make eye contact with Mansfield.

“It is indeed pitiable that you chose to leave me at the Inn. You see, my amusement had merely begun, but of course, you had to disrupt my joy ever so bitterly by departing without even bidding a meager farewell. And for this, I am severely maddened. In consequence of your discourtesy, I shall have to decapitate you and use your splendid head for adornment purposes.”

While you shriek in immeasurable distress, Mansfield menacingly chuckles. Rushing away through the unhallowed room of deathly assortment, you come across another doorway.  Making haste––unaware of the grisly horrors that could possibly be ahead––you push aside what feels to be strips of fabric dangling all about your surroundings. Mansfield follows, and his mad and abhorrent laughter seems to reverberate hither and yon. Promptly moving further on into the inexorable and murky apartment, you unexpectedly stumble upon something that infuses immense apprehension into your spirit. Right before you exists the singularly most horrid thing which can compare to only the most unearthly thoughts conjured by the mind of great psychological agitation; suspended from the ceiling is an upside-down, hollowed-out corpse with bat-like wings crafted from meticulously-peeled dried skin and thoroughly-assorted crispy bones. You release a marrow-chilling cry.

Hastening away from the unworldly fixture, you discover another stairwell and dart down its uneven steps, only to find yourself back in the parlor at such a horrifying and torturous scene. The ghoul which you saw previously has swapped the disconnected arms and legs of a shriveled corpse that is overextended upon a lengthy table. He is now sewing the opposite parts back onto the body. This Coffin Keeper then places his most recent masterpiece back into the coffin, seeming extraordinarily amused with himself. But without warning, he gazes up towards you with an aberrant leer upon his face. Swiftly turning around to escape by re-ascending the crooked steps, you realize that the stairwell is quite impassible, for Mansfield begins to make his decent. Screaming in a daunted manner, you vainly attempt to move past him; thus now, he threateningly snatches you. You cry out, anguished, as you are dragged over to a coffin that was prepared precisely for you. Both fiends forcefully shove you inside and slam the lid shut . . .

*   *   *

––You have awoken in a rather unusual and inexplicable position. Your arms are crossed, but what horrifies you the most is that you seem to be lying in something quite narrow and enclosed. It is exceedingly dark––you cannot see anything. You begin to noticeably hear something fall directly above you––it thus crumbles. As this process endures, you begin to unerringly understand what is actually occurring. It is all the most distressing and unpleasant. You are in a coffin being buried––and being buried quite prematurely. You begin writhing and thrusting inside the enclosed box, but your hands feel notably different––they are abnormally cold and dry. Panicking, you violently push upwards and the lid opens, permitting the surrounding dirt to spill inwards. Above, gazing down upon you are the Coffin Keeper and Mansfield. And oh, how engaging your misery is to them both––utter glee can be effortlessly distinguished upon their wicked faces.

In the pallor of the moonlight, you stare upon your hands. However, they are no longer the hands that you once knew. They are gray and peculiarly mangled. The skin is so thin and tight that the bones underneath are slightly visible to the eye. You can even observe the joints that link the finger-bones together. Suddenly, Mansfield begins to speak to you with such darkness of expression,

“Unfortunately, you have once again ruined my exquisite bliss and thus struck an ill-nerve. Therefore, I now must rip apart your every limb––bone from bone, morsel by morsel.”

Crying aloud, out of perpetual torment, you climb out of your premature grave. Reaching aloft, you pull yourself out from below the rich soil of the land. Yet alas, the unending insanity has not ceased its remorseless wrath. Both unsightly ghouls begin to peruse you with vicious smiles upon their unwelcoming and abysmal faces. A wrought iron fence seals the yard of the massive domain––tall, sharpened rods sentineling every inch. Amongst the ethereal mists are hundreds of black, decaying trees with their heavy, overshadowing limbs hanging below the shaded underbrush. Hurrying through the condensed murk, you feel a vein of bleakness begin to sprout through your soul while the rear entrance of the home appears before you through the impenetrable gloom. The house that you so unremittingly loathe is your only haven, for fierce creatures stalk the wilderness of the vale. There must exist a place of hiding within the melancholic mansion. You quickly advance inside the house's dead interior and lock both doors. Through the window, as you slightly part the curtains, you watch the two forbidding specters hasten through the ghostly fog. Mansfield and the Coffin Keeper begin making their way up to the stoop.

Hurriedly pulling together the draperies of the window, you step away in uttermost fear. Shuddering involuntarily, you hurry up a precipitous stairway. Both fiendish beings knock unrelentingly upon the backdoor, endeavoring to force it open. And as you reach the top landing, the doors thud open in one pugnacious moment. Mansfield quickly moves through a doorway and the Coffin Keeper begins to ascend the stairway. You silently––and observantly––crawl behind a wooden chair and watch through the spindled back as the shadowed ghoul sluggishly passes through a doorway. Thereafter, there is absolute silence––a silence that rings piercingly. Intently crawling out from your place of hiding, you take a few spare moments to gain your bearings. The whereabouts of Mansfield and the Coffin Keeper are now completely unknown. You must remain extremely wary.

While you heedfully move through a grand doorway, a discomforting quietness settles over the whole of the house; the shrilling gale outside has deadened and the creaking walls progressively silence their disquieting rhythms. The wan radiance of the moonlight penetrates several windows; the tattered drapes cast wraithlike shadows upon the floor and a draft causes the silky material to sway back and forth––the shadows now soaring to and fro. An antique canopy bed is heavily layered in sheets of thickened dust. A narrow wardrobe stands rather pronouncedly in the corner, but there instinctively seems to be something quite enigmatic about the mere piece of furniture––perhaps something has been locked away within it for centuries.

Walking over to the disconcerting wardrobe, you firmly clutch both silver knobs and open the two doors––they groan rather slowly and dust particles begin to stir, becoming irradiated in the moon's milky rays. Within the old cabinet is a disfigured stiff, helplessly hanging upside down by a rope tightly knotted around its thin ankle. Instantly taking backward movements, you feel that your spirit is consumed by an increasing trepidation. Something very malignant resides within the depths of this formidable house; you must stay exceedingly vigilant while you continue about, for you could indeed end up similar to this unfortunate and sorrowful cadaver. Precisely as you move through the dense duskiness and to an imposing doorway, you feel something softly brush against the back of your legs.

Hurriedly turning towards the being which made direct contact to you, you discover a small, shabby, deeply black-hued cat perching pridefully before your very humble existence. He looks upon you quite enquiringly with his hypnotizing, golden eyes glowing in the heavy dimness of the spacious room. Purring with graceful measures, he then crawls alongside you and leisurely brushes his furry and spine-bare back against your two legs. The kingly feline thereafter stares towards the doorway from which you came and yowls blaringly. Loud footsteps begin resonating here and there––afar and yonder. Your attention is immediately seized by this sudden commotion. But when you return your attention back towards the cat, you realize that he has departed without a single trace.

The ebon cat was purely a meager omen, and thus now, something rather ghastly is imminent––you must quickly advance into the adjoining room before either Mansfield or the Coffin Keeper find you creeping about their gloomy manor. Hurrying into the neighboring chamber, you begin to diligently observe your shadow-shrouded surroundings; you realize that this particular apartment appears to be a library––through the oppressive darkness, you can hardly distinguish several lengthy rows of bookshelves that stretch across the ancient wood flooring. The malodorous scent of mildew and decay pervades your nostrils while you hasten forward into the must-wafting room. The soundlessness whirls through the shades of dusk and forgotten time, but without prior notice, the footfalls start up once more––becoming nearer by the second. You must noiselessly hurry farther on; one of the unforgivable ghouls is scrutinizing their mouldering domain.

While you undetectably hurry towards the end of the immense library, the abominable sound of feet heavily pressing against the weakened floorboards resonates in every corner here and there. Dashing through a narrow doorway, you soundlessly quicken your pace down a lofty hallway. To the right is a door widely opened. Well aware of the fiend that so mercilessly stalks you, you move into the chamber. In the nearly pitch-blackness, you can slightly discern a tall bed in the far corner. Crawling underneath the large bedframe, you conceal yourself during the precise moment of which the grim being enters the room; Mansfield is indeed standing in the doorway. Grinning with such a wretched expression upon his face, he quietly walks towards the bedside––slowly––slower––and slowest.

His corpselike toes are protruding beneath the oaken bedframe, merely inches from your widened eyes that stare so fixedly. You struggle rather intensely to breathe silently; imprisoning within your pounding chest your every fearful gasp. Mansfield remains utterly motionless, until all at once, he kneels upon the time-faded floorboards there before you. His cold, cadaverous hands clutch your own skeletal hands––his ruby and jade eyes that repose within hollowed sockets peer into your very own eyes––his smile becomes sinisterly vivacious––contrasting with your idle frown.

“It appears as if I have found you,” says he in an extremely threatening manner. In an instant, you are dragged out from under the antique bed by Mansfield's inordinate strength.

“How reprehensible it is for you to suppose that I am a mere fool,” speaks Mansfield, with a remarkably ill-rhythm in his voice.

You begin shrieking agonizingly while you realize your attempts to rid yourself of Mansfield's grasp are quite fruitless. “Shhhhhh. Hush my dear friend,” he pauses for a brief moment, leering at you in a villainous manner.

“I must compare my fingers to your very own. You see, I am in earnest need of new ones. As of this moment, I am not fond of my own. And your fingers are undoubtedly perfect for my hands. Thus, I shall have to try them on, if you do not mind. It will indeed be of no surprise to me if your fingers were predestined for my hands since the commencement of time.” Immediately, the marrow in your bones runs exceedingly cold while Mansfield carries on with explaining his nonsense. “From the knuckle, past the joint, to the end.” Pausing for a second, he continues to observe your hand. “Yes, yes. This will do.” You begin crying out, thrusting and writhing, straining to liberate yourself from his ruthless grasp.

In an instant, Mansfield holds you sadistically to the old floor, beginning to violently pull away at your weak fingers, stretching them out with such vigor. He begins to separate them from your hand––you scream and yell––your poor fingers crack and crunch many times, and before your awareness returns, the dried flesh departs, making a distinct shredding noise. You shriek imploringly, watching what he does to you in uttermost horror. Mansfield continues his vile deed with great pleasure,

“Forgive me, but you simply must understand my confounding needs. It is only fair that this happens––that, I can assure you.”

You shriek louder, yet the reign of darkness and dread overcomes your pleading spirit––grimness is the only bound that this God-forsaken vale knows. Gradually, while your consciousness ceases, Mansfield's appalling face is the last sight that your vision beholds . . .

*   *   *

––You cannot recollect the particular and grotesque details of what occurred, but horrific and perturbing memories are vaguely familiar. Each time you intolerably strain your thoughts, there is an acute understanding that hazily returns––and yet each time, the conception fades into your incessant incoherence. From the few solitary remembrances that intermittently reoccur in your mind, you envisage the face of Mansfield; something dastardly was undoubtedly undertaken.  Your bodily strength is uncharacteristically low, and the leaden surroundings appear to weigh heavily upon your anguished soul.  And from what you are presently cognizant of, you are being uncaringly lugged by Chester. Your frail arms drag against the cold earth, but something worries you gravely about them; they are abnormally twisted, and their positions appear to have been horribly interchanged. As you endeavor to ever so slightly glance over your shoulders, it is during this distressing moment that you become entirely aware of what has truly happened to your deprived existence. Your limbs are no longer of severe concern, but your head certainly is.

Without care, you are remorselessly thrown and forsaken at the foot of a towering, knobby, decaying tree. And precisely while you feebly gaze upon Chester, he instantly vanishes into the ink-like murk that unnervingly lingers about. Why has Chester chosen to abandon you here? Perhaps you were merely placed by this tree to rot forevermore.  There is much lonesomeness that sidles into your melancholy soul while you watch the draped heavens shift between various shades of darkness. But without warning, a rather daunting and odious shriek cries out––and straightaway, feeling utterly distraught, you unsteadily stand to your feet by clutching onto the rotting tree’s knotty trunk. The position that your mangled, corpselike body is in feels insufferably uncomfortable; you make many vain attempts to rid yourself of the excruciating sensation, but at length, the discomforting sensation persists. Your very own head has undoubtedly been sewn on backwards. Thankfully, however, your gnarled legs have been inverted as well, which simply means that you are still, therefore, capable of taking mere strides. 

Wandering mournfully through the opaque, mist-like duskiness, you become exceedingly disturbed at the thought of the unbearable horrors that have only leered and bestowed dismay and demise upon you. Unfortunately, you have been unjustly desiccated and disfigured into a hideous corpse––and the worst aspect of this unforgiving predicament is that you are still quite alive, and furthermore, can move––of course, only with the most dreadful of paces. Through the dreariness, you stumble upon innumerable rows of gray, dull, and crumbling headstones with names and dates long eroded––forgotten by all. The morose gravestones stand together over and beyond the hill of which you walk upon; all in one deathly union.  Peering beyond the mistiness shrouding your sullen environment, you notice the wrought-iron gate that imprisons the sorrow within the funereal cemetery. Quivering with an unrepressed fear, you lie down in despair and wonder solemnly if you will have to forever haunt this ancient churchyard.

But once more––rather abruptly––there is another sequence of harrowing howls that blaringly moan over the landscape, followed by an eerily whistling gale which thereupon stirs the long-deceased leaves that have rested over the graves of many for countless centuries. Gazing observantly upon the pallid moon, you watch as it once more reverts to the unhallowed and deep pumpkin-hue. The grim, orange radiance descends ominously, while a lone, black, translucent cloud streaks across it, overshadowing the desolate boneyard; a tempest borne from great malevolence is brewing. Reaching aloft, you strenuously pull yourself up from the stony ground by grasping the top of a crooked tombstone. Slowly advancing through an aisle of uneven graves, you endeavor to quicken your irregular movements. But out of nowhere, soaring down from above plummets a winged, skeletal beast of pure fury. Your soul becomes quite dead while the fearsome being grimaces upon you sneeringly.

An orange, burning glow gleams menacingly within The Vampyre Beast’s hollowed, empty eyes––and while he inhales and exhales with a deep and foreboding pulse, his broad, ribbed chest arises. His spiny, bat-like wings raise upwards while he delivers a thunderous roar that inflicts intense terror upon your tormented spirit. The weight of his monstrous structure causes his boney feet to press into the soft, cemetery soil. His skulled head lowers while his talon-like hands clench firmly––and promptly, his wings flap gruesomely, stirring the increasingly frigid air afar and yonder. Although you are not certain what the maleficent being’s thoughts precisely are, you assure yourself that his intents are unerringly malicious. The Vampyre Beast continues to flap his thorny wings, snarling in an extraordinarily vicious manner. He slashes his bristly claws into your chest while you shriek in uttermost agony. With swift movements, he grasps you with his jagged fingers and ascends into the heavens.  You struggle immensely to unshackle yourself from The Vampyre Beast’s callous clutch.  While you writhe in his domineering hold, he simply laughs with a grisly melody in his unworldly voice.

The winged-fiend dearly cherishes every moment of the heartless humor that he finds in your torturous struggle and severe revulsion. He glides in the nightly winds that move quite briskly; comparable to the deathly air directed from a vulture’s ghastly wing.  But rather abruptly, while you carry forth your ineffective skirmish in the hold of the bat-winged-creature, he rancorously bites into your thin arm and tears the weak flesh from the bones. Many pieces of your exceedingly mutilated limb fall through The Vampyre Beast’s jagged ribcage.  But before he is able to consume you further, a low, deep, and formidable voice thunders throughout the heavens,

“It has indeed been finished; I plead with you to bring our guest forth, to me.”

Descending ungracefully to the earth, The Vampyre Beast releases you––and thus, you lie upon the unpitying grounds, before The Master.  Balefully, he peers into your widened eyes.  His phantasmal, violet shroud hauntingly flows in the autumnal winds, and his long, emaciated fingers stretch broadly.  A sharp, brooding grin opens upon The Master’s orange pumpkin-head, and flaming sparks fall from his mouth while he frees a foreboding mirth from his black soul.

“The end has come now, my misfortunate friend.  The Dark Sickness shall swallow the Earth, and all of the Heavens.  I greatly fear that there is no ceasing what has begun.  But you––you shall indeed face The Darkness and see its extraordinary magnificence.”

Suddenly, an irredeemable noise that only stirs distressing thoughts of the mind disperses into the air and echoes horridly throughout the shadowed valley; thousands of the ravenous creatures begin to grimly surround you.  They all fixedly gaze upon you, advancing nearer, shrieking dementedly.  Their greatest desires are to feast tonight––and indeed, they shall. 

“You shall perish in this valley tonight,” says the Master.  His words resonate in your mind.  You imploringly beg The Master to spare your despondent spirit––but all that he merely offers is a scornful whicker.  He glares upon you and thereafter smiles morbidly.

One of the innumerable creatures leaps forth and bites into your pathetic leg.  Another predictably lunges out of the restless horde and aggressively digs its sharpened teeth into your shoulder, grinding the bone and desiccated tissue.  You scream agonizingly while a third––and a forth––begin slashing into your flavorsome flesh.  Before you are aware of it, all of the creatures begin devouring you alive in an unpleasant manner.  You watch in inexorable horror as ribs are savagely torn from your sternum and muscle is disinterred from your weak body.  Darkly, The Master laughs while he observes your pitiable state––the final sight of which you behold is the pumpkin moon becoming engulfed by the blackening hazes above.  All vision is shadowed and your soul is finally released. Regrettably, however, you are everlastingly cursed, and thus reincarnated into one of the repugnant creatures.  You roam forth and commence your hunt for another hapless mortal; The Dark Sickness holds dominion over all for eternity.

- - - The End - - -

Return to Spookinite Valley

Return to Main Gothic Stories

© Spookinite.com - All text, music and photographs by Benjamin A. Fouché